"Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do… The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Really smart people with reasonable funding can do just about anything that doesn't violate too many of Newton's Laws!"
Every year the Google RISE Team is inspired by the work you do to impact students through creative and engaging STEM initiatives. We are excited to bring together another amazing group of organizations for the 2012 Awards. Google RISE – Roots in Science and Engineering – Awards are designed to promote and support Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Computer Science (CS) education initiatives. We grant awards to organizations working with K-12 (primary & secondary schools) and university students to provide enrichment programs in these fields.
I wanted to share a quick project using one of the adafruit RGB LCDs. It’s an ambient temperature display — it displays the current temperature and will adjust the LCD backlight color depending on where it falls. It’s a really simple project — just wire up the LCD and a temperature sensor. There’s more info, a video, and the source code here. thanks!
RGB backlight positive LCD 16×2 + extras, black on RGB. This is a fancy upgrade to standard 16×2 LCDs, instead of just having blue and white, or red and black, this LCD has black characters on a full color RGB-backlight background! That means you can change the background color to anything you want – red, green, blue, pink, white, purple yellow, teal, salmon, chartreuse, or just leave it off for a neutral background. This LCD is the most daylight readable character LCD we have.
We had these custom made to our specification so that you can use them in existing LCD projects and they’ll still work – just that only the red LED will be used. The extra two pins (17 and 18) are for the green and blue LEDs. The LCD has resistors on board already so that you can drive it with 5V logic and the current draw will be ~20mA per LED. There’s a single LED backlight for the entire display, the image above showing 3 colors at once is a composite!
Comes with a single 16×2 RGB backlight LCD, 10K necessary contrast potentiometer and strip of header. Our tutorials and diagrams will have you up and running in no time!
Tinkering — that hands-on, garage-based tradition which sparked inventions ranging from the airplane and electric light bulb to the Apple computer — is making a comeback among average Americans, promising to change our lives for the better on several fronts.
Known by such monikers as DIY (Do It Yourself) and the Maker Movement, its resurrection, fueled by the current economic downturn and the falling cost of high-tech tools and materials, stands not only to boost innovation and change how science is taught in the classroom, but could herald a new industrial revolution, suggest theEconomist, the Wall Street Journal and other luminaries.
The picture above is the entirety of Coobro Labs. Coobro Labs is run out of my 800 sq. ft. condo in Minneapolis, MN. This is where we kit and ship the Coobro Geo, and work on future open source hardware kits. The reason for sharing this with you is to hopefully encourage those of you out there who think you need a lot of room, and a lot of expensive equipment to start your own KitBiz. Let me break down the things that we find useful, and things we couldn’t live without.
An impulse sealer – This is a must have piece of equipment that we picked up brand new off of ebay for about $50. This tool takes rolls of anti-static tubing (see item #2) and heat seals the ends to create bags on-the-fly. You can buy impulse sealers with or without a built in cutter. The cutter isn’t really necessary, as it is just as easy to cut the bags with a scissors.
Rolls of anti-static tubing – These are 500 foot rolls of anti-static tubing picked up from uline.com. The reason for buying the rolls of anti-static tubing versus simply buying pre-made bags is that you can adjust the size of the bag to whatever length you want, and they are cheap at $25-30 per roll.
Laser printer – Below our workbench, we have a used Kyocera EP C170N laser printer that we picked up off of Craigslist for less than $50. While it isn’t mandatory, laser printers are much more cost effective, and the ink won’t be affected by moisture. We use the laser printer mainly to print out shipping labels.
High quality soldering iron – Having a decent soldering iron is what I feel is the most important tool I own. The difference between a quality soldering iron and a cheap hardware store model is huge. I used to find soldering frustrating and stressful, now I find it enjoyable and relaxing. We have an Aoyue model 2900 soldering iron, but Adafruit’s Hakko FX-888 is a great choice.
Fume extractor – A fume extractor is one of my most recent additions, and I can’t believe it took me so long to get one. There are a lot of toxins in solder, and breathing them in is very dangerous. I used to simply solder in a well ventilated area, and hold my breath until the smoke cleared. This is about as stupid as closing your eyes to avoid the arc flash while welding without a mask. I own the Weller WSA350 model and it works really well.
Hot air reflow station – Once I started to get into soldering surface mounted components, this is the first tool I bought. Before I made my own reflow soldering oven, I used this tool to solder surface mounted components. While you certainly can use a good soldering iron to solder surface mounted components, this tool will save you a lot of headache. We have the Aoyue 852A++ model, which can be had for around $150.
Reflow oven controller – We use the Rocket Scream Electronics Reflow Oven Controller ($40) Arduino shield. We have done some testing with our reflow oven by simply cranking the oven temperature up until the solder reflows, then shutting the oven off and letting the board cool in the oven with the door closed. This seems to work just as good as using a reflow oven controller that follows a specific reflow curve.
Toaster oven – This is a toaster oven that we bought in a Woot-Off for about $30. It is really nice because it has a ‘Stay On’ feature, and it’s a convection oven, so there are no hot spots. If you don’t plan on working with surface mounted components, you don’t need to worry about the last three items.
All-in-one printer – I have owned this HP PSC 1510 inkjet printer for a few years now and it has worked really well for me. The important thing here is that it has a built in scanner. You will need a scanner to be able to scan your signed purchase orders for component suppliers. A scanner basically replaces a fax machine.
Component storage – I have a nice collection of Sparkfun shipping boxes that I have saved and used for component storage. Simply slap a label on the top or front of the box to remember what is inside. These also work great for project boxes. You can also see other items we have used for component storage such as mint tins.
More component storage – When you are just starting out, this is really all you need. We store all of the components needed to build up Coobro Geo kits in this small parts organizer from our local hardware store. Through hole components, even in quantities of 1000+, take up very little room. Eventually, as we release more kits, we will need to upgrade, but this system works well for the time being.
Ikea hacked workbench – My workbench is really just a bunch of components I picked up from Ikea. The shelving is just Ikea CD storage boxes stacked in between some Ikea birch shelves. The CD storage boxes work great for tool, parts, wire, and other large component storage.
As you can see, there really isn’t a whole lot to Coobro Labs. There are obviously some items missing from the picture, such as shipping supplies, but this really is the majority of the Coobro Labs kit making business. If you have a great idea for an open source electronics kit that you think others would also be interested in, there really isn’t anything standing in your way.
New York’s got an abundance of almost everything, but engineers are increasingly a precious commodity. But the NYC Turing Fellows Program is revving up in its second year to really take on the problem and start feeding more tech talent to the exploding startup scene.
The Turing Fellows Program last summer placed 19 college interns out of 750 applicants at New York startups including Tumblr, Foursquare and others. Now, the paid internship program is expanding, and will place around 25 to 30 engineering, mathematics or computer science students at startups this summer. The application process, which quietly began earlier this month closes on Feb. 6.
The program is co-organized by Canaan Partners, FirstMark Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners and First Round Capital. This year’s crop of startups include Etsy, Second Market, BuzzFeed, Blip and many others. Other supporting partners include Amazon, SV Angel, David Tisch of New York TechStars, Silicon Valley Bank, and Esther Dyson, along with the New York City Economic Development Corp. and the New York City Investment Fund.
…He said the program tried to pick a diverse group of startups that spanned advertising, mobile, e-commerce and financial technology to give students different opportunities.
Great idea, and a great start. Looks like there are not any hardware companies, maybe next year
Small push-pull solenoid. Solenoids are basically electromagnets: they are made of a big coil of copper wire with an armature (a slug of metal) in the middle. When the coil is energized, the slug is pulled into the center of the coil. This makes the solenoid able to pull (from one end) or push (from the other)
This solenoid in particular is fairly small, with a 30mm long body and a ‘captive’ armature with a return spring. This means that when activated with up to 24VDC, the solenoid moves and then the voltage is removed it springs back to the original position, which is quite handy. Many lower cost solenoids are only push type or only pull type and may not have a captive armature (it’ll fall out!) or don’t have a return spring. This one even has nice mounting tabs, its a great all-purpose solenoid.
8-voices mixed in the micro, with nothing on the output but an RC integrator.
What the heck is a “Fraunchpad”? Well, it’s similar to the Launchpad, but with FRAM (Ferroelectric RAM, not an oil filter). Specifically, it’s the MSP-EXP430FR5739. The song data is stored in the FRAM.
[The president]… forcefully in his State of the Union about the importance of reviving manufacturing in America. If you talk with economists they will tell you it’s a very complex problem, involving tax, trade regulatory policy, exchange rates, and educational skills. It is all those things.
But when you move from high-level policy to specific cases, you will often find one element that is rarely talked about: a foreign government’s role in boosting its domestic manufacturers with specific loans, subsidies, streamlined regulations and benefits. In effect, these governments – many in Asia, though some in Europe as well – have a national industrial policy to help manufacturers.
In a front page story last week, the New York Times detailed how Apple’s iPhone ended up being made outside America. The Times wrote about the Apple executives who visited a factory in China to see if it could cut the glass precisely for the phone’s touch screen. When the Apple team got there, the factory owners were already constructing a new wing. “This is in case you give us the contract,” the manager explained.
How could they afford such an extravagant gesture? Well, it turns out, the Times noted, that they received subsidies from the Chinese government. That one incident is part of a pattern.
In 2009, for example, Bridgelux, a light-emitting chip manufacturer in the United States, was searching for a new factory site, the company considered the cost of building in the U.S. and elsewhere. The government of Singapore offered to pay half the setup cost of the plant.
If there were similar programs in the USA for companies like Adafruit, Makerbot, etc – we could easily employ thousands of Americans, almost overnight. We’ll get there for sure – we must, it certainly seems we’ll get there without any subsidies – time (and the markets) will decide which way works best.
I did a brief post back in March 2011 about the Lumarca, a project by Matt Parker, Albert Hwang and Elliot Woods. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a follow-up featuring this gorgeous short film about the project by Jason Scott. I’d be further remiss if I didn’t tell you that, if you’re in NYC, you can go see the Lumarca in person this week at Eyebeam.
The Swap-o-matic is a vending machine which playfully tries to remind us that reusing and recycling can be just as fun as buying something new. The machine allows users to donate and receive items, instantly and for free!
The basic rules of use for the Swap-O-Matic are simple. Though each item in the machine (donated by another user) will not cost the recipient any money, it will require “credits”. A credit is earned when the user donates to the system, and a credit is required to retrieve an item from the machine. New users receive 3 credits to start. Users can donate, recieve, or swap using the touch screen interface on the front of the machine. Other features, such as a user flag system, have been developed and implemented to prevent misuse or stalemate of the system.
NEW INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO BE ON THE SHOW AND TELL. If you are on Google+ and want to join, post a message/comment on Limor’s post on Google+ and say you want to show off a project and she will add you the “Show and Tell” circle. Then just look for the hangout announcement on the very same page later for your invite. There’s an 8 to 10 (at the same time) people limit per hangout, so if it’s full try later or just pop by next week same time. Some weeks are packed!
At 9:30pm ET you will see a link to the hang out. Just keep your mics muted until we call on you and have your project ready.
What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community – “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer – stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer your engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week. Mosfet the cat stops by too. Previous chats can be viewed at http://www.adafruit.com/ask
And don’t forget, 30 minutes before the show we’re doing our weekly show-and-tell. If you are on Google+ and want to join, just add/follow +Limor Fried’s (Ladyada) page and post a comment so you can be added to the show and tell circle. At 9:30pm ET you will see a link to the hang out. Just keep your mics muted until we call on you and have your project ready.
For those who just want to watch, you’ll be able to watch it live on Ustream here and we usually have a recorded version posted later.